Seattle University Research
- Applied Research Seminar: Student Case Studies
- 4Culture and Gallery 4Culture: A Case Study (2020) by Thea Mercer
- A Tale of Two Theaters: ACT, the Empty Space, and Economic Stability in Seattle Theater (2019) by Rebecca O’Neil
- A Word From Our Listeners: How Program Change Rocked KCMU (2020) by Dana Winter
- Byrd and the Bath House: A Case Study of the Spectrum Dance Theater, 1982-2012 (2019) by Erin Naomi Burrows
- Center on Contemporary Art: Facility or Facilitator? (2019) by Shannon Welles
- Corporate Culture: A Case Study of the Safeco Art Collection (2019) by Aubrey Benasa
- First Thursday Arts Walk of Pioneer Square: A Case Study (2019) by Rachel Ballister
- Francine Seders Gallery: A Case Study (2019) by Rachel Ballister
- Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute: A Home for Creative Youth (2020) by Andrea Ashton
- The Making of a Sacred Space: Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center (2020) by Ashley Marshall
- Northwest African American Museum: Forging a Black Identity (2020) by Sadiqua Iman
- The Northwest Folklife Festival: Preserving Seattle’s Golden Age of Arts and Culture (2019) by Maris Antolin
- On the Boards TV: Innovation, Leadership, and Practice (2019) by David Kisan
- PONCHO: Because the Arts Can’t Flourish on Imagination Alone (2019) by Justine Deacon
- Seattle Office of Arts & Culture: Confronting Institutional Racism in the Arts (2020) by Tanya Sharp
- Washington Hall: A Place for Artists (2020) by L.E. Webster
- The Wing Takes Flight: How the Wing Luke Museum Built a Home for the Asian American Community (2020) by Cay Lane Wren
- Cultural Infrastructure and Facilities: Student Case Studies
- Beyond the NAAM: The Melting Pot Legacy of the Colman School’s Transformation into the Northwest African American Museum (2019) by Tyrah Hannibal
- Black Arts/West: A Theater Without a Home (2021) by Adetola Abatan
- Building Community: A Case Study of the 12th Avenue Arts Development in Seattle (2017) by Pamala Mijatov
- DIY Music Spaces: An Origin Story and a Tour of the Underground (2019) by Virginia Easthope
- Equinox Studios: A Case Study (2014) by Sacha VanDeZande
- The Neptune Theatre: A Case Study (2020) by Ana N. Rusness-Petersen
- The Nippon Kan Theatre: When Cultural Facilities Have a Second Chance (2021) by Stefanie Fatooh
- Our Home Is Here: Wa Na Wari’s Origin, Challenges, and Sustainability (2021) by Ashley Marshall
- Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Francia Russell Center: A Case Study (2014) by Kristen R. Liang
- The Past and the Present, the West and the East: A Case Study on the Renovation and Expansion of Seattle Asian Art Museum (2021) by Amanda Feng
- The Rise and Fall of Consolidated Works and the Arts in South Lake Union (2021) by Cay Lane
- Risk and Reward: ACT Theatre and the Historic Eagles Auditorium (2015) by Sonia Nelson
- Seattle’s Bathhouse Arts Spaces: Spectrum Dance, Seattle Public Theater, and Seward Park Clay Studio (2019) by Cristin Miller
- The Tashiro Kaplan Building: A Case Study (2021) by Madeline Berkman
These case studies were developed as part of the MFA in Arts Leadership course Applied Research Seminar: Arts Innovation in Seattle taught by Claudia Bach. Students must typically complete their case studies within a 10-week quarter and do not have the time to go through a lengthy process of scholarly peer review. As a result, AERP cannot guarantee that the content is accurate, however, all case studies are reviewed by knowledgeable AERP Community Advisors prior to being accepted for posting. Each case study reflects the perspective of the individual author.
4Culture is King County’s arts and cultural agency. An autonomous public development authority, it is supported by and accountable to the citizens of King County. 4Culture’s organizational values center on equity and access for this diverse constituency. Its exhibition space, Gallery 4Culture, is a microcosm of the agency’s values and practices.
Organizations: King County Arts Commission, 4Culture
A comparative examination of fiscal instability in two Seattle theater companies, ACT Theatre and the Empty Space. In the 2000s, both confronted fiscal crises that threatened their survival. The Empty Space closed in 2006, but ACT remains in operation.
Organizations: A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), Empty Space
World-famous Seattle nonprofit radio station, KEXP 90.3 FM started off as college radio station KCMU in the University of Washington’s Communications Building. The station has always been known for its strong relationship to its listener base and local arts community, but in 1992, major changes in programming became the focal point of a conflict that threatened the bond between station, staff, and listeners.
Organizations: KCMU-FM, KEXP-FM
Madrona Dance Studio, a former Seattle Parks and Recreation bathhouse is the home of Spectrum Dance Theater, a contemporary dance school and company led by ground-breaking choreographer and artistic director Donald Byrd.
Organization: Spectrum Dance Theater
The Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) emerged in 1980 from a collective of artists and arts supporters to facilitate the promotion of art that was in dialogue with the current times.
Organization: Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA)
Over four decades, Safeco, a Seattle-based insurance company, built a major collection of Northwest art. When Safeco was acquired by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group in the financial crisis of 2008, the collection was donated to the Washington Arts Consortium, a group of regional museums.
Organization: Safeco Art Collection
A group of Pioneer Square gallery owners collaborated to create the first gallery map and art walk on the West Coast in February 1980. The event has continued to the present with the development of the Seattle Art Dealers Association (SADA) which took over publication of Seattle Gallery Exhibitions in 2005.
Organization: Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk
In 1970, Francine Seders established her gallery at 6701 Greenwood Avenue North. For fifty years, Francine Seders Gallery was an important and influential touchstone for artists and collectors in Seattle.
Organization: Francine Seders Gallery
From the late 1980’s to the present, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, previously known as the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center and later, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, has offered professional performing arts experience to teens through their summer musical and other youth programming. Through leadership and organizational change, the teen summer musical has continued to be an important community focus for youth and families in the Central District and the Seattle area.
Organizations: Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
The occupation of Fort Lawton on March 8, 1970 marked an important date in the history of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. It resulted in the founding of the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, for the past 50 years, a significant gathering place for Native peoples across the northern hemisphere.
Organization: Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center
From the occupation of the vacant Colman School building in 1985, to the opening of the Northwest African American Museum in that same building in 2005, social, political, and financial challenges from within and outside Seattle’s black community delayed and threatened to derail the museum’s opening. Finally realized through hard work, passionate commitment, and compromise by the museum’s many stakeholders, today it is a successful cultural institution and an important symbol of its community.
Organization: African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, Northwest African American Museum
The Northwest Folklife Festival was founded in 1972, spurred by the folk music revival and the popularity of outdoor music festivals. Seattle’s geographic isolation and a strong local ethos of cultural independence shaped its development and continue to influence its organization. In its fifth decade, the Festival remains a popular and populist event.
Organization: Northwest Folklife Festival
In 2009, On the Boards received a research grant from the Wallace Foundation to explore efforts to reach new audiences through technology. The result was the 2010 launch of On the Boards TV, a website that delivers full-length, high-quality recordings of contemporary performances to your TV, desktop or mobile device.
Organization: On the Boards
Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO) began as a group of civic leaders who organized a fundraising gala to retire the Seattle Symphony’s debt following the 1962 World’s Fair. That first gala was so successful that it became an annual event. During its 50-year history, PONCHO raised $35 million to support over 200 organizations.
Organization: Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural, and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO)
In 2004, the City of Seattle implemented the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), to address the root causes of institutional racism. The Seattle of Office of Arts & Culture was one of the lead departments in implementing the RSJI, introducing changes in its own processes and work plans while promoting the initiative through outreach and engagement with the arts community.
Organizations: Seattle Arts Commission, Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture
Washington Hall is a historic arts and cultural venue for in Seattle’s Central District. It has hosted events for a remarkably diverse range of racial, ethnic, religious, political and community groups. It was the home of the cutting-edge performing arts organization, On the Boards for 20 years beginning in 1979. A city and national landmark, it remains a vital arts venue in the 21st century.
Organization: Washington Hall
The Wing Luke Memorial Museum opened in 1967 as a memorial to Wing Chong Luke, the first Asian American elected to public office in the state of Washington. Over the past half century, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience has earned distinction as a place where Asian American history is told through the voices of those who lived it. In 2008, the museum relocated to a new 60,000 square foot home in a historic building in Seattle’s International District.
Organizations: Wing Luke Museum, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
These case studies were developed as part of the MFA in Arts Leadership course Cultural Infrastructure and Facilities taught by Katie Oman and Bill Moskin. Students must typically complete their case studies within a 10-week quarter and do not have the time to go through a lengthy process of scholarly peer review. As a result, AERP cannot guarantee that the content is accurate, however, all case studies are reviewed by knowledgeable AERP Community Advisors prior to being accepted for posting. Each case study reflects the perspective of the individual author.
The Colman School building has been an institution and a symbol for Seattle’s Central District and its African American community for over a century. Following the school’s closure, that community campaigned to convert the building to a cultural center. After 20-plus years of struggle, the Colman School building was reborn as the Northwest African American Museum.
Organizations: African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, Northwest African American Museum
Born out of the civil rights struggle of the 1960’s, Black Arts/West operated in Seattle for 11 years, producing plays and teaching dance and acting as a part of the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP). Black Arts/West struggled to find a permanent home and sustainable funding and eventually closed in 1980.
Organizations: Black Arts/West, Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP)
Capitol Hill Housing, an affordable housing developer, joined with neighborhood arts organizations to build 12th Avenue Arts, in response to the gentrification that threatened Capitol Hill, one of Seattle’s most culturally vibrant neighborhoods.
Organization: 12th Avenue Arts
Seattle is home to many DIY music spaces: transient venues that exist on the margins, geographically, economically, legally and culturally. Threatened by regulation and gentrification and viewed with indifference by the arts establishment, they can be vital incubators for creative outsiders and safe havens for marginalized artists and audiences.
Organization: Joint Artists & Music Promotions Action Committee, Teen Dance Ordinance, Vera Project
In need of affordable workspace, Sculptor Samuel Farrazaino bought and renovated an old factory building into studios for himself and other artists. More than a physical home, Equinox Studios have become a thriving business and a supportive community of artists.
Organization: Equinox Studios
The Neptune Theatre is the only survivor of five theaters constructed in Seattle’s University District in 1919. Still owned by descendants of the original builders and now leased and operated by the Seattle Theatre Group (STG), it has evolved from a movie house to a vibrant live performance venue for artists ranging from touring musical legends to community youth.
Organization: Neptune Theatre, Seattle Theatre Group
Originally built in 1909, The Nippon Kan Theatre was rediscovered, renovated and reopened by Seattle architect Edward Burke in 1981. After regaining an important place in the Japanese American and Asian Pacific American communities especially, it closed in 2005 after the Kobe Park building was sold to a private business.
Organization: Nippon Kan Theatre
Wa Na Wari is a Black arts collective and community center that operates out of a historically Black-owned house in Seattle’s Central District. Wa Na Wari was founded in 2019 and despite zoning and other challenges, continues to offer a place for the Black community of Seattle to come together.
Organization: Wa Na Wari
Committed to their mission of providing excellence in dance education throughout the region, Pacific Northwest Ballet opened a branch of their school in Bellevue, Washington in 1986. Through two moves and capital campaigns in 2002 and 2016, the Francia Russell Center continues to meet the demands of a growing and changing suburban population.
Organization: Pacific Northwest Ballet
The 2017 - 2020 renovation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) gave this historic collection a new home that honored the art deco building that houses it and provided updates that have enabled the museum to explore new curatorial designs.
Organization: Seattle Asian Art Museum
This case study examines the South Lake Union nonprofit Consolidated Works and how confusing art direction, coupled with facility instability and a lack of audience in the neighborhood led to mission drift and contributed to the closure of the once lauded organization.
Organization: Consolidated Works
A Contemporary Theatre was founded in 1965 and in its first three decades, became one of the cornerstones of Seattle theater. Its 1996 move to the Eagles Auditorium downtown increased the organization’s size and artistic reach, but nearly led to bankruptcy. It took over a decade for ACT to regain its financial footing and realize the full potential of its new home.
Organization: A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), Eagles Auditorium
In 1970, the City of Seattle renovated three lakefront bathhouses in City parks to house arts facilities. Today they are occupied by three non-profit arts organizations: Spectrum Dance, Seattle Public Theater, and Seward Park Clay Studio. They provide significant public benefit to the City and its arts community, but there are political and fiscal challenges to maintaining these buildings and relationships.
Organizations: Bathhouse Theatre, Seattle Public Theater, Spectrum Dance Theater, Seward Park Clay Studio
The opening of the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts (The TK) in 2004 marked a pivotal point in the development of artist live/work spaces in Seattle. The success of The TK and independent galleries in the building served as an example for other developments in King County and have become a well-known destination for the Pioneer Square Art Walk.
Organizations: The Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts
Area under construction.